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Email Marketing How-To: Building a Database of Contacts for cold mailing

A very crucial step towards marketing your product or service successfully on the internet is directly contacting a group of potential customers over email, and sorting out said group of potential customers, or a database of contacts, is a very daunting and often laborious task. This article is intended to serve as a review of the ways (both good and bad) in which such online databases are commonly built.

Buying Databases

That seems to be the simplest solution, doesn’t it? God bless 21st-century capitalism! Well… not really. Buy database lists and you’re probably paying your way into a graveyard of stale data. Look, once a contact database has been used, it is never a good idea for somebody else to re-use it. It’s a no-brainer: interested individuals in the list would already have found somebody they can associate with, while those not interested are unlikely to take an interest in you in the first place. Most companies offering an email list service are likely scammers, because no mortal keeps a handful of excruciatingly built email databases in their pockets, just in case. What’s worse, many of them often turn out to be email IDs that have long been inactive or are just plain wrong.

Tl;dr: Fastest option, but riddled with scammers. Not recommended.

Using Reliable Lead Generators

The phrase “database of contacts” doesn’t quite do justice to the true requirement of bloggers today. It’s 2016 and we have grown up. We no longer want contacts; we want leads. The difference between a contact and a lead, in case you’re a rookie, is that a contact can be pretty much anybody with an email ID, while a lead is a contact who has shown an active interest in the product or service of your choice – say through a google search or on social media. In other words, a lead is a contact who’s likely to visit your website or blog if you contact them. Now we’re talking, eh?


Fortunately for you, the internet has some quick and easy solutions. Tools such as Aeroleads,, Hoovers, and InfoUSA are known for building you an email list in real time ensuring that every contact is relevant to your requirement. They even have ready-made lists if you’re hurried!

Tl;dr: A decent option if you’re impatient and willing to pay.

Check out- Content Marketing Agency

Gmail, LinkedIn, and Rapportive

You’ve heard of the first two, and you’re going to fall in love with the third in about 10 seconds. The appropriately named Rapportive is a jewel of a plugin that shows a tab of comprehensive information about anyone you’re looking at or interacting with. Yes, anyone. And this includes their email IDs, phone numbers, social media presence, and possibly any number of other elements of potential value. For now, it’s only available as a plugin for Firefox and Chrome, so sorry IE or Opera users, you’re going to lose out on this (although, honestly, if you’re still using IE in 2016 you’re probably used to adjusting to loss).


Combining Gmail (or Inbox by Google), LinkedIn, and Rapportive, you can quickly and effectively create a list of hand-picked contacts who are certain to look at your marketing email (or give you time over the phone if you call them).

Tl;dr: An ingenuous way of building quick and effective databases.

Hacking: Address Books, Reverse Email Lookups

It’s not news that you can hack your way into knowing a person’s identity. Address book services such as Full Contact often help fishing out a user’s email ID from third-party websites and applications. Obviously, there’s no guarantee that you’ll succeed, but it’s worth to get to specific contacts you consider to be valuable.


Reverse email lookup services involve tracing somebody’s locations from their email ID. This can be done by looking them up on social media, using a people search engine to pin them down, tracing their IP addresses from emails they sent – you know, precisely what they call stalking (hey, stop looking at us like that, all we’re saying is that it’s technically possible).

Tl;dr: Stealthy and Matrix-ey, but unreliable and borderline unethical.

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Author avatar
Mayank Gulati